October 11, 2023
Last Hotline we wrote about the coming way of electric vehicles and the significant charging infrastructure needed for recharging their batteries. At the same time there, is a push away from other fossil fuels to convert more and more equipment to be fully electric and to forego any natural gas or gasoline powered units. All of this puts more stress on the already shaky electrical grid. Centralized supply of power for everybody for everything has costs and risks associated with the concept. Batteries are also heavy and filled with unfriendly and hard to find chemicals and minerals, nor do they continue to perform indefinitely. This raises life-cycle concerns for the sustainability of battery dependent electric vehicles.
The sudden rush to produce more and more batteries to produce more and more EVs has encouraged the announcement of over $100,000,000,000.00 of investments in the required manufacturing infrastructure. That is 100 times the size of what used to be considered the prize economic development project of an auto assembly plant. That investment just builds the infrastructure to make the batteries. More infrastructure is needed to charge the hundreds of millions of batteries that are being put into service.
Is there another path that still protects the environment but does not have the world fighting over simply a different scarce resource instead of oil? There is a more sustainable option that may be closer to reality than you think. Hydrogen is the most abundant element on the planet. It typically is bound up with other elements in nature, but the most ubiquitous of them is water. With water covering 70% of the earth’s surface, we will never have a hard time locating a supply of hydrogen. Tapping into this abundant and ubiquitous resource would significantly democratize the access to energy not just in this country but all over the world. This has many upsides when the energy use is pollution free. The necessary distribution network is already in-place. Hydrogen can be transported through the existing natural gas pipeline network that already exists to many homes and businesses. The pure hydrogen can be separated at the end-user location to fuel a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in about 5 minutes. The electricity needed to power the vehicle is created on demand using a hydrogen fuel cell whose only emission is water vapor. This is the new emerging technology that will have big impacts.